Strategy Thirteen (August 2012 update)

Prioritise international engagement on a regional basis to support effective development of university-wide partnerships and networks

Members of the University are part of a wide network of relationships with researchers and policy-makers around the world. Our work enjoys a strong international reputation. But to be more effective in engagement with our partners – academic, governmental and inter-governmental – we commit to greater coordination and focus of our international activities at University-wide level.

Our international activity has been refocused in light of regional priorities identified in the strategic plan.

13(a) Focus our regional engagement efforts on China, south-east Asia, and India as top priorities; Korea, Japan, North America and Europe as medium priorities; and Latin America and Africa as emerging priorities.

In focusing our regional engagement efforts in line with initiative 13(a), several clear trends have emerged. First, we have high engagement in Europe, North America and China, based on the extent of existing and emerging research collaborations1, national interest, student and staff mobility, and incoming international students (with China remaining our primary recruitment source). Second, engagement is moderate in south-east and north-east Asia (Japan and South Korea), and is relatively low in all other regions with some areas of increased activity due to capacity building and government-funded programs (Latin America, Africa). We now recognise the Pacific as a separate region for reporting our international activities due to enhanced government support for that area. Key thematic areas of engagement in the Pacific are health, law and economic development, climate change and food security and education.

13(b) Develop a business plan to reflect these priorities and cover existing gaps, as appropriate.

Initiative 8(e) outlines our progress to establish University-wide centres focused on particular areas, including China and south-east Asia, which should result in a more strategically focused approach to engagement in those areas. The most notable discrepancy between priority and engagement is South Asia, where engagement is low. We have created a network of academics specialising in south Asia – see also under initiative 8(e).

Progress on regional engagement is regularly reported to SEG. The International Portfolio has developed a comprehensive academic and business plan and an internationalisation strategic approach recognised by commendation in the final report of the 2011 audit by the Australian Universities Quality Agency. This framework is supported by faculties through their membership of regional expert groups, regular meetings with deans and divisions, and divisional representation at the SEG International Committee.

13(c) Develop the Sydney World Program of offshore and onshore academic fora, symposia, graduations and alumni receptions, consistent with our regional priorities.

The Sydney World Program is the umbrella term for a series of schemes to promote the University's profile and reputation with international stakeholders in Australia and overseas. It comprises several programs and initiatives2 that complement and leverage one another. An example of this is the advancement of our work with the National Development and Reform Commission of China, a high-placed think tank that plays a significant role in China's national policy planning. This relationship began with an International Leaders Training Program, was followed up by a visit through the VIP Visits and Protocol Office to explore further collaboration, and will continue with a high-profile roundtable event during our 2012 delegation to China that we intend will increase the University’s profile and deliver research, government relations and student recruitment outcomes.

The International Leaders Program offers customised training and engagement opportunities for emerging and senior leaders from government, industry and academia. The program aims to increase the University’s profile in priority countries, and develop high strategic-value relationships across the University. More than 500 clients come to the University each year, with greatest demand from China, followed by north-east Asia, south-east Asia and the United States. We are working to further diversify the attendee mix to reflect the strategic plan’s regional priorities. Ninety-three percent of respondents to participants’ surveys in 2011 and 2012 to date have rated the program as 'highly satisfactory'.

Academic delegations have made a major contribution to the University’s presence abroad, facilitating meetings with high-level academic, government and industry partners, advancing collaboration and attracting scholarships and research funding, profiling University strengths through public fora and symposiums, and advancing key relationships with alumni, partners and friends of the University through receptions and graduation ceremonies. They also provide a platform for targeted student recruitment activities.
See initiative 5(a) for information about how our International Networks and Partnerships programs support international exposure for staff and students, as well as information about the International Forum Series.

13(d) Design an international communications program using media and messages appropriate to targeted audiences, consistent with the University’s overall communications strategy.

Targeted international communications support Sydney World Program events overseas. In the past year we have generated more than 200 articles in the Chinese media alone, and our recent media conference in Jakarta – attended by 20 Indonesian journalists – produced a wide range of positive reports. Monthly coordination meetings are held with the central University Media Office.

1. A recent federal government report, Science and Research Collaboration between Australia and China, shows that the University published more joint papers with China from 2000-09 than any other Australian university.
2. Constituent elements include International Academic Delegations, VIP visits and Protocol, the International Forum Series, World Fellows Program, the International Leaders Program and the Confucius Institute.